From FZS intern to locally famous ‘radio girl’. Christina Gregory empowers women to participate in economic activities by sharing programs about FZS supported Community Conservation Banks. Her radio programs are making a difference to people, especially women, in her region.
The radio influencer
The Loliondo area in northern Tanzania, where Christina’s village is located, borders Kenya, with Serengeti National Park to the west and Ngorongoro Conservation Area to the south. Here, the best communication tool for informing, educating, and entertaining residents of the area is the radio, especially the most popular station, Loliondo FM. “Few people have other devices, such as digital phones and TVs here, so the radio is the main source of information,” says Samira Haji, FZS Tanzania Communications Officer.
For Christina Gregory, working for the radio as a presenter and content creator, was not a job she thought she would end up doing. Mainly because women in this area infrequently enter careers that take them away from housework.
But Christina was determined. After finishing her Community Development diploma, she started work as an intern for FZS’s Serengeti Ecosystem Development & Conservation Project in 2019. Here, she put her diploma to work by assisting with overseeing the Community Conservation Bank (COCOBA) groups- this is a savings and banking loans model that provides people with alternative income-generating activities, such as beekeeping.
Working with entrepreneurs in the COCOBA groups gave Christina new insights “I learned a lot from the COCOBA groups,” says Christina, “It was not what I expected, I thought I was just going to do clerical work, like putting files in a neat manner or just filling information in the database, but I learned about finances, savings and how people, especially women, in the group could benefit from the loans they get from investments”.
Christina’s passion and education caught the attention of a producer working for Loliondo FM, a radio station that shares educational programs which are particularly beneficial to girls and women, who often have few other ways of gaining knowledge, considering many have not attended school.
“But I did not want to be a reporter I had never envisioned it.” Says Christina, “However, I thought to myself, that this could be an opportunity for me to change a life or two, using what I have learned when working with FZS and the communities”.
Now, she creates programs about the importance of conservation, keeping the environment clean, and the value of educating girls and women. To these programs, she adds learnings from her time at FZS by frequently sharing information about COCOBAs, especially how these are a good tool for women, who can use these groups to start up their own businesses, thereby contributing to income generation in their families.
These topics are broadcasted to over 1,000 people in the area. Based on call-in testimonials that Christina and her team receive daily, it is clear that the programs are working. Many women call to tell them that they learned from Christina’s programs and that what was shared has inspired them to join COCOBAs.
This work has made Christina quite popular, especially in her own Maasai village, where she is now affectionately known as the ‘radio girl’.